Do people say you worry too much?
Have you recently experienced a crisis or trauma?
Are you overly sensitive?
Do people say you are controlling?
Are you feeling overwhelmed by daily stress?
Anxiety is a signal generated by our mind and body that danger (either real or perceived) is near. About 5% of Americans experience severe anxiety at one time or another in their lives. Anxiety can run in families, or it can be associated with a specific situation and be temporary in nature.
From time to time, we all worry about things that are important to us. But sometimes, the resolution of the problem does not end our mental and emotional distress. Fear can become the focal point of daily life and even disrupt our ability to function.
How? It might result in overly compulsive behavior about details. Or, it might result in unacceptable procrastination or even outright avoidance of necessary activities. It can even cause us to want everything to be "my way or the highway" just to keep anxiety to an acceptable level.
I use techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, or guided imagery when working with anxious clients. Affirmations are useful, and sometimes techniques such as EMDR or EFT. A great tool is "distraction" -- finding ways to turn off the intrusive thoughts, taken from the DBT "toolbox" (see Services Provided for further explanation).
Learning positive self-talk is also extremely important. I highly recommend David Burn's Feeling Good Handbook (or The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated). This is a classic work for changing automatic negative thoughts (ANTs -- your job is to eradicate the ANTs!).
An acronym I find valuable for everyday stressors is BREADS/LT (from the American Heart Association since long-term stress does have health ramifications). This acronym stands for:
- deep Breathing
- Relaxation (any hobbies or activities you "lose yourself in")
- Exercise (really #1 for stress, anxiety, depression, preferably outdoors)
- Attitude (many techniques are available)
- Diet (watching your blood sugar spikes, having enough protein, taking B vitamins)
- Support (friends, family, church, counseling)
- Laughter (see Norman Cousin's book Anatomy of an Illness to see how he cured himself watching the 3 Stooges!)
- Time management
Some wonderful guided imagery CDs by Bellaruth Naperstek are available at www.healthjourneys.com, and any meditation or other soothing CD's may be useful. Think of the background music when you get a massage -- it's designed to calm you. In general, research has shown classical and new age music to be most restful and relaxing.
You can even try aromatherapy (such as lavender) and calming teas (such as chanomille). It's a matter of finding various items to incorporate in your daily life.
And any of the Eastern techniques such as mindfulness (see Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD's Full Castrophe Living), yoga or tai chi can help relieve stress and anxiety. There are many local classes available in the Stockton area.
There is no reason to let anxiety cripple your life and keep you from enjoying activities. Counseling can make a dramatic difference and help you live life more fully.
Some other resources my clients have liked include The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Aron, PhD, and The Introvert Advantage by Marti Laney.
Other useful links include: www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/panic-disorder.aspx and www.miminc.org/aboutocic.asp.
I was always looking outside myself
for strength and confidence
but it was from within;
it is there all the time. (Anna Freud)